Beginner’s Guide on How To Use Matrix by ITA Software.

If you are a frequent reader of our site, you know that we use Matrix by ITA Software to validate almost every deal we publish. We like Matrix by ITA Software for its flexibility, speed and, most importantly, the ability to view monthly fare availability. The trade-off for flexibility and speed is complexity compared to the likes of Kayak or Hipmunk.

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Matrix by ITA Software was never intended to be a consumer-friendly solution, but if used correctly, it can find very low fares. We field many questions on how to best use it. Here’s a very simple guide on how:

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  • We like to enable “Advance routing codes,” have “See calendar of lowest fares” selected, and on the length of stay field, we like to use a date range. We typically use “0-7” nights as it covers 95% of all published fares. Let’s search for a fare from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) on American Airlines only.

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  • On the Advanced routing code field, we enter “aa+” to search only for American. Here are some sample airline codes:
    • aa+ -> American
    • dl+ -> Delta
    • b6+ -> JetBlue
    • ua+ -> United
    • us+ -> US Airways
    • vx+ -> Virgin America
    • ba+ -> British Airways
    • lh+ -> Lufthansa
    • af+ -> Air France
    • kl+ -> KLM
    • cx+ -> Cathay Pacific
  • The result is a nice view of which dates have the cheapest fare:

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  • We can easily see that there are only two Fridays with cheap tickets. This is much quicker than searching for flights individually on Kayak or anywhere else for that matter. Selecting a specific date gives you this:

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Now that you know there’s availability with American on March 1st – 3rd for a nice weekend getaway, it is just a matter of plugging this information in the airline’s website or your favorite online travel agency to book.

This is a very simple how-to guide; if you want to learn how to use all the advanced features of Matrix by ITA Software, Travel Codex did an excellent series on it.

For more of the latest cheap Flight Deals:

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Comments (27)

  • Let’s say I want ITA to find tickets that give me a 12-23 hour layover in my international connecting airport. Is there a way to force ITA to look for longer layovers?

    Thanks!

    TFD 7 years ago Reply

    @Kay – you can use the “/minconnect x” function. Where x = minutes for the connection (e.g., 1440 = 24 hours). However, in all likelihood, connections > 24 hours = not a layover anymore and will increase the fare.

    Thanks!

    Jonathan H 7 years ago

    You put this in the “advanced routing code” section, right? I managed to get it to work, but can you specify both specific airlines AND minimum connect time? How would you write it? I tried using commas to separate but it’s not working…

    TFD 7 years ago

    @Jonthan – yes, you put the codes in the “advanced routing code” section. As for putting both specific airline and MCT, we haven’t been able to get that combo to work.

  • Scottrick 7 years ago Reply

    Thanks for the mention!

    jvlyons 6 years ago Reply

    ITA shows LAX-YYZ-BRU r//t Business Class $2500 april/may 2014 (AA LAX-YYZ/Jet Airways YYZ-BRUSSELS) but when booking via AA the reservationist says”it won,t let me book this class of fare”.How to overcome this? Speak to a Supervisor? Get an expert TA? Call Jet Airways? T.Y

    TFD 6 years ago

    @jvlyons – the fare is published by Jet Airways and not AA. The fare basis is 9W (Jet Airways) P2BE1CA. We had no problems pricing it out on Orbitz.com. Make sure you you select “Additional search options” and select “Jet Airways” on Airline 1 and “American Airlines” on Airline 2.

  • Rodeojones 7 years ago Reply

    Great site, great article, and thanks for the pointer to Scottrick’s site for further info.

  • angela 6 years ago Reply

    once i find a deal on the ita website and i print out the fare and booking code, how long do i have until that fare is no longer valid?

    TFD 6 years ago Reply

    @angela – It all depends. Read the fare rules – some fares have explicit last date the ticket must be issued (in most cases, they will last until then), others just have an advance purchase period. our advice is either to hold the ticket for 24 hours (American) or everyone else pretty much have a risk free 24 hour risk free cancellation policy if departing from the US. Use that time to firm up your travel plans.

    Here’s our guide on How to Read Airfare Rules and Use It to Your Advantage

  • wayne 6 years ago Reply

    For the Santa Barbara to NYC flight, can I just get on the second leg of that flight?

    TFD 6 years ago Reply

    @Wayne – no. you miss the 1st leg, the rest of your itinerary is canceled.

  • hi! Can I ask you what does this means in Matrix?
    I´m searching for a flight from San Francisco to Tokyo with a stopover in Hong Kong

    4 FREE STOPOVERS PERMITTED ON THE PRICING UNIT – 2 IN EACH
    DIRECTION IN HKG/LAX/SFO/NYC/CHI.
    AND – UNLIMITED STOPOVERS PERMITTED ON THE PRICING UNIT AT
    USD 100.00 EACH.
    CHILD/INFANT DISCOUNTS APPLY.

    TFD 6 years ago Reply

    @Carola – it means on the outbound or return, you can stopover in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, New York or Chicago 2x for free — e.g., you can do this: San Francisco – Los Angeles (Stopover) – Hong Kong (Stopover) – Tokyo – New York (Stopover) – Chicago (Stopover) – San Francisco. However, there needs to be inventory on each of those segments — which is not always available.

  • Great tutorial! We’ve been using ITA Matrix for a few years to find the lowest fares but never used the advanced features. Thanks for the heads up!

    Glad we’ve discovered this site, it’s particularly great if you’re not so fussed on where you go at a given time, which is frequently the case with us 🙂

  • Brittany 5 years ago Reply

    I keep receiving an error message saying “exceeded boombox request quota” Can anyone tell me how to fix this?

  • Taylor 5 years ago Reply

    There is a deal going to Milan for two for $500, is this still a good offer because after navigating through the website, I don’t see any deals like that ?

  • trena 4 years ago Reply

    The routing codes like “aa+/fbc=Q” never work for me. I also keep getting “7 column” error messages if I just try to search by an airline only.

    The Flight Deal 4 years ago Reply

    @trena – looks like the error there is the lack of spacing. try it as aa+ [space] /f [space] bc=Q — where [space] is space character

  • Azka 4 years ago Reply

    I don’t understand how to purchase these tickets? Can someone help?

  • nina brown 4 years ago Reply

    how do I book these fairs? I called the airline and the customer service rep could not find the fairs or where to put the codes as instructed.

    The Flight Deal 4 years ago Reply

    @nina – every deal we post include booking instructions. if you scroll down a bit after the How to Search section of the post, you will see the “How to Book” section.

  • Graham B. Tredray 4 years ago Reply

    Newbie at your site, but I love it!!!

  • Willa 4 years ago Reply

    So how do I book the flights that I find???

  • Cece 3 years ago Reply

    I did an ITA matrix search and went to priceline and the fares do not match. priceline’s are higher and I put American in the advanced airline box. I chatted with customer service and they were less than helpful stating I must book the flight before they can assist with anything and redirected me to their self help pages. Any ideas?

    Here’s the flight I found, and the same dates and lowest price on priceline.

    ITA Matrix:
    Fare 1: Carrier AA OB00WNLH SFO to OGG (rules)
    Passenger type ADT, round trip fare, booking code O
    Covers SFO-LAX (Economy), LAX-OGG (Economy)
    $100.96
    Fare 2: Carrier AA NB00WNLH OGG to SFO (rules)
    Passenger type ADT, round trip fare, booking code N
    Covers OGG-LAX (Economy), LAX-SFO (Economy)
    $183.92
    US Transportation Tax (US)
    $0.11
    US Alaska/Hawaii Departure Tax (US)
    $17.80
    US September 11th Security Fee (AY)
    $11.20
    US Passenger Facility Charge (XF)
    $18.00
    US Flight Segment Tax (ZP)
    $16.00
    Subtotal per passenger
    $347.99
    Number of passengers
    x2
    Subtotal For 2 adults
    $695.98
    This ticket is non-refundable.
    Changes to this ticket will incur a penalty fee.
    Fare Construction (can be useful to travel agents)
    SFO AA X/LAX AA OGG 100.96OB00WNLH AA X/LAX AA SFO 183.92NB00WNLH USD 284.88 END ZP SFO LAX OGG LAX XT 17.91US 16.00ZP 11.20AY 18.00XF SFO4.50 LAX4.50 OGG4.50 LAX4.50

    Priceline lower price per person: $377.76 for a total of $755.32. Same dates, same airline.

    Cece 3 years ago Reply

    Same thing on orbitz, much higher on orbitz, does not match up at all with fare the matrix displayed for the same dates and same airline. Orbitz comes out to $442.84 per person, $1020 total. dates are 10/8 depart, 10/15 return, 2 adults.

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